The Broward County Sheriff's Office had received two calls — one as recently as November 2017 — informing them that Nikolas Cruz was a potential school shooter who possessed an arsenal of weapons, according to call records provided to BuzzFeed News.
Neither of the calls led to any direct intervention by the sheriff's office. Information from one of the calls in 2016 — warning authorities that Cruz planned to shoot up his high school — was forwarded to the school resource officer, Scot Peterson. Peterson resigned following the revelation that he stood outside the building and did not attempt to stop Cruz from opening fire on students and teachers Feb. 14.
These tips are among at least 18 calls the sheriff's office received from 2008 to 2017 about Cruz's violent behavior, mental health issues, and possession of weapons and hate-related symbols. The sheriff's office found that Cruz's reported behavior did not violate any policies.
On Nov. 30, 2017, a caller told the sheriff's office that Cruz was a "school shooter in the making" and that he was collecting guns and knives, records show. The caller was concerned that Cruz "will kill himself one day," adding that he wanted to join the army and that his weapons were being kept at a friend's house.
A deputy contacted the caller, located in Massachusetts, but no report was initiated. After the shooting, the deputy told authorities that he had referred the caller to the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office.
Katherine Blaine — the cousin of Cruz's mother, Linda Cruz — requested that police recover rifles from Cruz after calling the sheriff's office on Nov. 1, 2017, the day of Linda Cruz's death. After a deputy responded, a close family friend agreed to take the firearms and no report was initiated. In interviews with law enforcement after the shooting, Blaine has denied knowledge of any actual firearms and has denied requesting the guns be taken away from the residence. She told authorities that she was only aware of BB guns at the time.
On May 2, 2016, the Broward sheriff's office received "third-hand" information that Cruz "planned to shoot up" his high school. The tip, from a neighbor's son, said that Cruz had posted a picture of himself with guns on Instagram. A deputy, who got in touch with the anonymous caller, determined that Cruz possessed knives and a BB gun. The information was forwarded to Peterson, who was the school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas.
Two years later, Peterson stood outside the high school building for four minutes and did "nothing" while Cruz went on his bloody rampage, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a press conference Thursday.
"He never went in," Israel said.
After the shooting, Peterson was put on unpaid leave and has since resigned. In 2014, he was named school resource officer of the year for the City of Parkland district, a position he had been in since 2009. It is unclear if Peterson ever acted on the information he was sent by the sheriff's office in 2016.
The sheriff's office has initiated an internal affairs investigation and a review of the apparent inaction following both calls about Cruz being a potential school shooter.
At least six of the calls received by the sheriff's office were related to Cruz's possession of weapons. In 2016, a peer counselor told a school resource officer that Cruz had possibly ingested gasoline in an attempt to kill himself and was cutting himself. Records show that Cruz indicated he wanted to purchase a gun for hunting and that he possessed hate-related communications and symbols. The school resource officer initiated a report and the school said it would conduct a threat assessment on Cruz after indications that he suffered from depression. The sheriff's office found his behavior did not violate policy.
Other calls to the sheriff's office suggested a pattern of violence, anger problems, and erratic behavior, as frequently reported by his mother, Linda Cruz. From 2010 until November 2016, Broward County sheriff's deputies responded to at least 36 emergency 911 calls from the home where Linda Cruz lived with her two sons, Nikolas and Zachary.
In 2014, Cruz was reported to have shot a chicken with an airsoft rifle. In one incident, Linda Cruz alleged that he had thrown her against the wall because she took away his Xbox, while in another call she said that he had hit her with a vacuum cleaner hose.
Here are the call records that the Broward sheriff's office received about Nikolas Cruz:
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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